Code Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs

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Overview

This is the unforgettable story of how an ordinary Iraqi became a hero to America's elite warriors—and how that debt was repaid with the gift of freedom.

He was the seals' most trusted interpreter . . . and more

Night after night, while his homeland was being destroyed around him, he guided the U.S. Navy SEALs through Iraq's most dangerous regions. Operating under the code name "Johnny Walker," he risked his life on more than a thousand ...

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Code Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs

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Overview

This is the unforgettable story of how an ordinary Iraqi became a hero to America's elite warriors—and how that debt was repaid with the gift of freedom.

He was the seals' most trusted interpreter . . . and more

Night after night, while his homeland was being destroyed around him, he guided the U.S. Navy SEALs through Iraq's most dangerous regions. Operating under the code name "Johnny Walker," he risked his life on more than a thousand missions and became a legend in the U.S. special-ops community, many of whose members credit him with saving their lives. But in the eyes of Iraq's terrorists and insurgents, he and his family were marked for death because he worked with the Americans. . . . Then the SEALs stood up to protect the man who had watched their backs through the entire war.

Over the course of eight years, the Iraqi native traveled around the country with nearly every SEAL and special-operations unit deployed there. Using his wits to outthink the insurgency, Johnny Walker unmasked countless terrorists and helped foil an untold number of plots against Americans and their allies. He went on hundreds of missions, saved dozens of American lives—both SEAL and civilian—and risked his own life daily. He and his family lived in constant jeopardy, surviving multiple assassination attempts and a host of threats in Mosul, until a desperate escape through the desert late in the war took them to the relative safety of Baghdad.

Fearing for Johnny's long-term safety after the war, the SEALs—now as close as brothers to Johnny—took it upon themselves to bring him to the United States, where today he and his family live their version of the American Dream. He remains in the fight by helping train the next generation of American special-operations warriors.

For the first time ever, a "terp" tells what it was like in Iraq during the American invasion and the brutal insurgency that followed. With inside details on SEAL operations and a humane understanding of the tragic price paid by ordinary Iraqis, Code Name: Johnny Walker reveals a side of the war that has never been told before.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
America, as portrayed in this military memoir written by an Iraqi native with ties to U.S. command, is "a refuge and a dream," a country that stumbled into an already broken Iraq and did its best with the pieces it found. "Johnny Walker" is the code name given to the author while working with Navy SEALs as a translator and interrogator. DeFelice, best known for his work on Chris Kyle's memoir, American Sniper, co-writes Walker's tale of the war. The book is at its best when Walker reflects on the impact of the job on the life of his wife and kids. During the six years he spent allied with the Americans, Walker and his family were threatened and forced to relocate several times. However the author often strays away from his personal experience, focusing instead on the action of war. Even his primary message that the Iraq war was not caused by America is lost through the repetitive accounts of house raids. By the time Walker and his family relocate to California, the story feels less about a man who fought in secret, and more about someone who wanted and found a way out of a war torn country. (Feb.)
CHRIS KYLE
“Johnny has an amazing story that I feel needs to be told, and would touch the hearts of all Americans. ... He is responsible for saving many American lives, especially SEALs.”
Library Journal
09/01/2013
Committed to changing his country's government, the author worked as a translator for the U.S. military during the war, also delivering intelligence and saving lives; he's been praised by famed U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Today he lives in San Diego, where he trains new SEALs. With a 50,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-09
Fiery, insightful memoir from the former Iraqi translator who fought alongside U.S. Special Forces during the recent war in Iraq. With the assistance of DeFelice (co-author: American Sniper, 2012, etc.) and writing as a first-time author under a protective pseudonym, "Johnny Walker," this Mosul-born, pro-American Muslim Iraqi relates a sometimes-biased but invaluable insider's perspective of Iraq after Saddam Hussein. After an undistinguished stint in the badly trained Iraqi army, the author made a decision early on in the 2003 conflict that to provide for his family, he would have to collaborate with the American occupying force. Although his initial attempts at obtaining work as a translator and adviser for the Americans were frustrated, he eventually caught on with the Navy SEALs. Quickly, he began to learn that being a translator also meant being a combat-ready soldier and risking his life. Things began to get seriously dangerous for "Johnny," however, when his relationship with the American forces became well-known around Mosul, which made him a potential target for assassins. This pressure to both serve his American employers and still retain close ties to his own Iraqi community is what eventually drove him to pursue his dream of immigrating to America. Throughout the book, the author gives a vivid sense of what it's like to be stuck geopolitically between a rock and a hard place: Iraqis like him rejected the tyrannical rule of Hussein but then had to endure the chaos of the destabilizing influence that the U.S.-led invasion wrought on the country. Although he defends the motives behind the American invasion, the question of whether this pre-emptive military action was an effective operation in the long run is a point he mostly evades until the end of the book. Ultimately, any national allegiances take a back seat to "Johnny's" survival instincts. Eventually, the once-impossible dream of becoming an American citizen and bringing his family to the U.S. became a hard-won reality. A harrowing personal journey of courageous self-empowerment during wartime.
New York Daily News
“A hero. .... Countless Navy SEALs relied on the Iraqi translator’s wile, and sometimes his way with a weapon, to bring them out alive.”
Parade (Parade's Picks)
“This gripping memoir by ‘Johnny Walker,’ an Iraqi translator who risked his life for eight years to work alongside U.S. Navy SEALs (a job so dangerous that even now he can’t use his real name) is a story of loyalty and courage under fire—literally.”
BlackFive.net
“Riveting and illuminating. ... Reads more like a fictional thriller than a memoir. Walker’s story is amazing and gives a unique perspective on the Iraqi War.”
FoxNews.com
“A remarkable story. ... Offering a unique perspective on the Iraq War, ‘Code Name: Johnny Walker’ tells the story of one Iraqi who risked everything to fight with U.S. troops, in particular the Navy SEALs, becoming perhaps the only ‘terp’ (interpreter) to be welcomed into their tight-knit fold.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Riviting. ... For those who think they’ve heard the last word on the Iraq war, Code Name: Johnny Walker is an eye-opener. With DeFelice, Walker has written a mesmerizing memoir about his life, including the six years in which he helped American forces.”
Coronado Eagle-Journal
“A breathtaking memoir — a stirring tale of courage and convictions. It adds a fascinating and insightful new dimension to the history of the Iraq War.”
American Thinker
“Extremely informative and gripping. ... Offers a unique perspective. ... Johnny became the SEALs’ most trusted interpreter, willing to sacrifice everything in an effort to improve his country and keep his SEAL brothers safe.”
The Blaze
“Johnny Walker went well above and beyond his duties as an interpreter to help save countless American lives. ... Walker became a valuable asset not only because of his language skills but his valor in executing missions. ... Be sure to check out the book.”
New York Times Book Review
“The story of an Iraqi interpreter who spent six dangerous years working with American special forces before being brought to safety in America.”
Booklist
“This is an excellent memoir, a story about the post-9/11 war in Iraq as told by someone who is simultaneously an insider and an outsider. ... “The voice—earnest, disillusioned, passionate, patriotic—seems undeniably to be that of the pseudonymous ‘Johnny Walker.’”
CHRIS KYLE
“Johnny is responsible for saving many American lives, especially SEALs. He has an amazing story that I feel needs to be told, and would touch the hearts of all Americans. I cannot express how many lives have been touched by Johnny, and how many of us owe him our lives.”
ERIC BLEHM
“A gripping memoir. ... Code Name: Johnny Walker is an unforgettable story—an essential account of the Iraq War.”
MARCUS LUTTRELL
“Extraordinary... Definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the perspective of an Iraqi who was willing to sacrifice everything in an effort to improve his country, and who was instrumental in bringing many of the bad guys to justice.”
MIKAL VEGA
“’Johnny Walker’ defines the word ‘brother’ and how it transcends blood. He is a true American at heart, one I trusted with my life as much as every other SEAL I had the honor of working with.”
"CAPT. X
“Johnny’s ingenuity, indomitable spirit, and utter fearlessness not only protected the lives of many SEALs, but also saved countless innocent Iraqis. He is a true hero to all of us. Seeing Johnny and his family living safely in the United States is something I will cherish forever.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062267559
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/11/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 68,417
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim DeFelice is the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller American Sniper. DeFelice is the author of Omar Bradley: General at War, the first in-depth critical biography of America’s last five-star general. He also writes a number of acclaimed military thrillers, including the Rogue Warrior series from Richard Marcinko, founder of SEAL Team 6, and the novels in the Dreamland series with Dale Brown.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 12, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading about a "local" help fight for

    Really enjoyed reading about a "local" help fight for his country by helping our military and intelligence groups. He earned the praise he received from our SEALS.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    Two thumbs down!

    Tried to give this book the benefit of the doubt that it might get better. I couldn't do it. Don't waste your money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic story! Guts and Glory! Also I recommend Hector's Juice

    Fantastic story! Guts and Glory! Also I recommend Hector's Juice!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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